Small Things Make a Big Difference

by Charles Platkin, PhD

When we try to lose weight, the first thing we do is to look to overhaul our entire lives. We empty our refrigerators and kitchen cabinets — tossing anything and everything that keeps us on the fat track.

But the reality is that if we could simply make small, modest lifestyle changes, we would have a much better chance of losing and maintaining our weight. In fact, research has shown that by cutting just 100 a day from what we are currently eating, we can lose 10 pounds in one year. You might say, “What’s the big deal? 10 pounds over one year is nothing.” But 10 pounds is a lot if we do it year after year and we don’t have to suffer during the process. By the way, there’s no trick here — just do the math. Since 3500 calories equals about a pound, 100 calories per day is 36,500 calories per year, which translates to just over 10 pounds.

This means that simply replacing foods that already exist in our diet with low-fat, low-calorie versions is a good way to begin making modest changes. However, keep in mind that dieting is not a license to eat additional low-fat, low-calorie foods; it’s SUBSTITUTING for our present choices that makes the difference.

So how do you find out where to cut these “100 calories”? To start, we need to audit our food choices on a daily basis. Keep track of what we normally eat for a few days (meaning we don’t want to suddenly change our eating habits just because we’re watching.) Then, take a look at some of the little things that we could cut out without “suffering” very much. Make sure it adds up to at least 100 calories as an initial goal, and we’re on our way.

Need some ideas? Here are some tips on getting a head start in cutting a hundred calories or more (remember — you need to review things in your own life and come up with what works for you):

INSTEAD OF: 1/2 cup premium chocolate ice cream such as Haagen Dazs, 270 calories
TRY: 1/2 cup of Dreyers/Edy’s chocolate ice cream, 150 calories Save: 120 calories
OR BETTER YET: have 1/2 cup of chocolate frozen yogurt, 110 calories
Save: 160 calories

INSTEAD OF: A garden salad with croutons, cheese and full fat salad dressing, 390 calories
TRY: A garden salad with croutons and full fat salad dressing without cheese, 280 calories
Save: 110 calories
OR BETTER YET: A garden salad with a small dinner roll and reduced fat salad dressing, without cheese or croutons, 200 calories
Save: 190 calories

INSTEAD OF: A slice of thick crust pepperoni pizza and a 16 oz soda, 500 calories
TRY: A slice of thick crust cheese pizza and a 12 oz soda, 370 calories
Save: 130 calories
OR BETTER YET: A slice of thin crust cheese pizza and a 12 oz diet soda, 230 calories
Save: 270 calories

INSTEAD OF: 1 Dunkin’ Donuts glazed cake donut, 270 calories
TRY: 1 Dunkin’ Donuts glazed yeast donut, 180 calories
Save: 90 calories
OR BETTER YET: 3 Dunkin’ Donuts glazed Munchkins, 120 calories
Save: 150 calories

INSTEAD OF: 3 Oreo Double Stuff cookies (210 calories) with 1 cup of whole milk (150 calories), 360 calories total
TRY: 3 Oreo cookies (160 calories) with 1 cup 2% milk (120 calories), 280 calories total
Save: 80 calories
OR BETTER YET: 3 Reduced Fat Oreo cookies (140 calories) with one cup of skim milk (80 calories), 220 calories total
Save: 140 calories

INSTEAD OF: A slice of apple pie (300 calories) with ice cream (270 calories), 570 calories total
TRY: A slice of apple pie (300 calories) with frozen yogurt (100 calories), 400 calories total
Save: 170 calories
OR BETTER YET: A slice of apple pie (300 calories) with 2 tbsp whipped cream (30 calories), 330 calories total
Save: 240 calories

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